Following behind the likes of chips and salsa, deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail, charcuterie boards are the new must-have hors d’oeuvre when it comes to hosting an event no one will forget. The decadent boards topped with meats, cheeses and crackers are a tad more cultured than their finger food counterparts, however, inspiring Turlock resident Amy Navarra to create a business showing the community how to “wow” with gorgeous arrangements that taste as good as they look.

While the term “charcuterie” is of French descent, meaning “cured meats,” this definition doesn’t tell the whole story of what the boards truly are, Navarra explained. Today, charcuterie refers to the practice of assembling fine meat artistically for consumption. The boards are typically used as an appetizer at events and also feature cheese, crackers, bread and other accompaniments, and Navarra’s business, Savor Charcuterie, provides expertly-crafted boards for customers in addition to workshops that teach hosts how to entertain and impress their guests through food.

Hospitality was a priority for Navarra growing up, she said, and through this she was able to grasp the importance of an authentic connection. Cuisine is one means through which humans can form a connection, and what better way to do so than while grazing a delicious charcuterie board?

“It’s scientifically proven that when people use their hands for something in the presence of others, they have an increased likelihood to engage in meaningful and authentic social interaction,” Navarra said. “Plus, who doesn’t like to eat meat and cheese?”

Through Savor Charcuterie, Navarra encourages others to taste the difference togetherness makes. She’s traveled as far as Iowa with her business, offering informational charcuterie workshops and creating both grazing tables and individual curated boards in all sizes for customers to enjoy.

“I think people are really drawn to these boards because there is something for everyone on them. It’s all the essential elements for a great started and all curated together makes a beautiful and artful presentation,” she said. “It’s also become so much easier to source great cheese and charcuterie meats at the local supermarkets, which gets people excited as well.”

According to Navarra, two things go into a perfect charcuterie board: quality ingredients and balance. Similar to the rules of interior design, boards should feature odd numbered amounts of meat and cheese, and there should be no more than seven different types total on a board at once.

“You don’t have to spend your life savings, though very easy to do, as long as you have balance on your board,” Navarra said.

Navarra’s charcuterie workshops are similar to paint and sip parties, she said, except instead of painting a canvas, participants create the art on their boards. When guests arrive at a workshop, the meats, cheeses and accompaniments are prepared, plated and ready to curate, and Navarra explains the art and methodology behind charcuterie so that even beginners can enjoy.

“No idea is a bad idea, so they’ll be able to imagine their own combinations as well,” Navarra said.

For the holidays, Navarra recommends festive extras to spice up a board. For Thanksgiving, add on fresh persimmons sliced thin, dried cranberries and figs, pumpkin butter or pecans. At Christmas, add spiced nuts, cider-soaked cranberries, cherry jam or even rosemary sprigs.

No matter what’s on a board, one thing is certain: food is a great equalizer, Navarra said, and everyone shows up to a charcuterie display with one thing in mind.

“It doesn’t matter about our politics, our religion or our economics. At that moment, all that matters is that we are hungry and excited about gourmet cheese and meat,” she said. “It’s a little way to nourish not only our bodies but our souls. I love that I get to be a little part of connecting people, of helping people create authentic genuine connections and inspire the lost art of hospitality.”

For more information email amy@savortogetherness.com; @savorcharcuterie on Instagram